By Selwyn Harris
Pahrump Town Board members Tuesday voted to approve funding for a massive improvement project for the fairgrounds area on the south end of town.
Patriot Contractors’ $884,410.40 bid to do the site work on a new soccer field complex won out over Wulfenstein Construction’s $1,102.040 bid for the job. No other bids were received.
In a memo to the board, Town Manager Bill Kohbarger spelled out the project’s next steps as well as how the town would pay for it all.
“The engineering work was recently completed by GC Wallace after obtaining town board approval to move forward on the project design, construction drawings, and the bid specification package. There are sufficient funds in the fairgrounds room tax and park impact fee fund to cover this cost,” the memo stated.
One major aspect of the project includes drilling a well on the land. Board member Mike Darby voiced his concerns about whether the contractor is familiar with the unique soil composition in Pahrump as opposed to Las Vegas.
He said he is quite familiar with working with different types of dirt and soil from his previous career.
“Going through their list of jobs that they are doing and jobs that they completed, they haven’t done anything on this side of the hill. The company that I worked for back then when we came over to this side of the hill, it presented a whole new spectrum of problems in having to deal with the type of soil that we have here. I’m kind of nervous about awarding something to a company that has never done any kind of dirt work in this town because of our unique soil that we have here,” he said.
GC Wallace engineer Derick Yoro sought to assuage Darby’s concerns by letting him know that Patriot is indeed aware of the soil conditions within the Pahrump Valley.
“I just wanted to point out that Patriot is working at Mountain Falls Phase II for grading, paving, and concrete for William Lyon Homes,” he said.
Buildings and Grounds Manager Matt Luis also told Darby that the contractor has already taken soil samples from the location for closer inspection.
“The soil samples are all done and they are very aware of what type of soil that they are going to be dealing with. It’s not something that once they start up the grader, they find out what they have. All of the soil samples have been taken, so they know exactly what they are dealing with,” he said.
Yoro said the area of the improvement project sits on 27 acres of the entire 400-plus acre site at the top of Fox Avenue.
Yoro said improvements adjacent to the site will also take place once the work begins.
“It will include a 60-foot wide right of way paved access for Fox Avenue as well as a little stretch about 200 feet long of Dalton Avenue, which runs east and west. This will include grading for eight future soccer fields; it will also include a parking lot with about 400 stalls at the moment. In all, it’s grading, paving for the parking lot and paving for the access roads to the site,” he said.
The project does have its detractors.
Board member Harley Kulkin raised the question about how the proposed tourist destination led by Contour Entertainment will play a role in the fairgrounds project, which is in the same general area.
He also had concerns about how the eight soccer fields on the fairgrounds will generate tourism within the town.
“Someone has determined that soccer fields would be successful but I haven’t seen any documentation that would prove that at all. I don’t see that. I don’t know about you, but I can’t support spending almost a million dollars on this, which will undoubtedly go over a million in time because things happen.
“How do I know that the location is not going to interfere with the Contour project? I also think that Contour should be on board with this thing. My idea of spending the money that we have spent here is to make sure that we are in a position that we can go out and get investors. I would like to see investors be spending money doing this and this is going to eat up an awful lot of our room tax money and we are not going to have anything left. This is going to be a tremendous hit on our tourism fund,” he said.
Town Board Chair Vicky Parker informed Kulkin that Contour Entertainment President Chris Brown is aware of the fairgrounds improvement project by virtue of visiting the site earlier this year.
“Actually when I took him out on a tour, he located the area where the soccer fields were going to plan around it visually as he was looking at it. I know he is aware the soccer fields are going in and where,” she said.
Kohbarger, meanwhile reminded the board that if the project did not move forward, grant monies from the federal government would have to be forfeited.
“We haven’t spent that money, so we will just be losing $198,000,” he said.
Luis also addressed Kulkin’s question about whether multiple soccer fields in Pahrump will bring in enough tourists to sustain the project.
“We’re talking 27 acres with soccer fields. Where are we holding our events now? On baseball fields. We have always talked about community events and getting things in here. Twenty-seven acres is a lot of grass. When we build this out, we will keep that in mind and maybe this is the start of events coming in where we can gate this area. It’s just to get our foot in and get started.
“There are no buildings on it and when we get further down the road we can design it. We are looking at R-V boxes so we can move small events like car shows and other local events. Maybe we can have the gated events by putting fencing around the whole area. It’s a beginning and you got to have a beginning. Ten years now, we have not had a beginning. I feel this is the beginning and we have to start,” he said.
Luis took his point further by telling the board that he has spoken to officials with the American Youth Soccer Organization AYSO and was informed that membership within the organization has increased dramatically, which gives the indication that the fairgrounds will draw tourists.
“This year here locally alone, their membership has jumped and they are pushing 550 soccer players. Is there money involved in this? Absolutely. If you ever go to Bullhead City, with the AYSO Southern Chapter, you can’t find a place anywhere in Bullhead and they are looking for different areas. They approached us several times about holding a tournament out here and we are playing soccer on our baseball fields. It’s a huge benefit to the community to get this started too,” Luis said.
After further discussion, board members were able to convince Kulkin that the project was worth moving forward on.
The vote was 4-0 in favor of the improvement project.